There are eight candidates vying for mayor of Cedar Rapids, ranging in age from 27 to 71 and representing a variety of backgrounds and professions. Some are long-time politicians; others are dipping their toes in the water for the first time. Some have focused on their policy ideas while others have put their values at the forefront of their campaigns. Here’s a brief look at your options when you enter the voting booth on Nov. 7.
Kris Gulick: Gulick has been on the city council for 12 years. The 59-year-old accounting professional has focused on three primary priorities: economic development, a pro-growth approach to the business community and a commitment to collaboration across the community. His secondary priorities include community safety as well as infrastructure and flood protection.
Brad Hart: A lawyer at Bradley & Riley PC, Hart, 61, promises to focus on flood protection, economic and workforce development, safety, street repair, housing and poverty, government accessibility and building the volunteer capacity of the community (he suggests Cedar Rapids should become the “Volunteer Capital of the World”).
Gary Hinzman: Hinzman, 70, worked in the justice system for many years, including a stint as Cedar Rapids Chief of Police. His priorities include reducing flood concerns while supporting river conservation, fueling economic development, working with neighborhood associations for growth and development, increased housing options, support of the local workforce, equal opportunity for all and safety.
Scott Olson: Olson, 71, is a commercial real estate broker who has served on the city council since 2012. He has said he is committed to addressing issues directly impacting residents and pursuing thoughtful use of tax incentives to spur growth, continued retail recruitment, promoting positive relationships with metro communities, area school districts and county government and supporting the city manager and his staff.
Tim Pridegon: Pridegon, 61, is the city chaplain and a pastor for Lifeline Ministries, and is running on a message of love, unity and peace. He promises to address the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community as well as to tackle issues of poverty, including promising to donate his first month’s salary to support more city funding for programs that help the poor.
Jorel Robinson: A Cedar Rapids native, the 30-year-old Robinson is a productivity specialist at GoDaddy. He notes that his youth, biracial background and lack of a political affiliation make him a unique voice in the field of candidates. He argues the community can be strengthened by bringing together neighborhood associations, schools, fire and police departments and businesses.
Lemi T. Tilahun: At 27, Tilahun, who works at Men’s Warehouse, is the youngest candidate in the field. His focus is on talent development, retention and recruitment, economic growth and entrepreneurship, involving citizens in government and addressing future challenges now rather than waiting. He calls for affordable housing, expanded public transportation and investment in technology. He pledges that city taxes will not increase.
Monica Vernon: Vernon was on the city council from 2008 to 2016, serving as mayor pro tem from 2010 to 2016. The 59-year-old consultant promises to prioritize roads and infrastructure, flood protection, safe neighborhoods, sustainability and economic development, as well as working to “hold the line” on taxes, improve the city’s parks, support the cultural community and retain the community’s historic character. She supports the creation of a central community center for seniors.